Thanks to Maria and all others involved in making the recording, and thanks to Lauren Ayers for a first draft of the first half of the session. Thanks also to all in freepacifica for entrusting me with the task and responsibility for producing this transcript. I am very honored and proud to be associated with people who have the ability to make such passionate, committed and principled statements.
Submitted by John
Sommers, Inglewood, CA
Current monitor/former listener-subscriber to KPFK
Here it is:
Mary Frances Berry:
The only other thing I'll say before we go to public comment is to note
most important business that I think that Pacifica needs to engage in -- to be very open about it -- is
Pacifica needs to urgently -- at all the stations -- figure out a way to respond to the demographics of the
region in which the stations sit -- the populations. We're entering the 21st century, and many of the
populations that exist in these signal areas -- in my view -- are folks who say that they don't listen to the
station, they never listen to it, they don't know anything about it. We also need to attract younger
listeners to the stations. There's no reason why the stations, like WFPW in Washington, shouldn't have
students from the universities there who are learning how to be programmers -- on the air, who have
shows -- there's no reason why music can't be diversified that they would be appealed to. All of us are
getting old -- at least I am -- and when we die out I would hope that the message -- the beat goes on.
And so, I think that we need to be looking at how to involve younger people, how to involve more people
of color -- which is new demographic reality -- as listeners and subscribers to these stations. This is an
urgent piece of business. And we need to learn how to deliver a message -- a progressive message -- and
whenever I say that, some people ask me "What do I mean by progressive?", which I'm appalled by. But
a progressive message, in a form which will be appealing to the populations that exist in this country
today and tomorrow, if we are to have any kind of impact. The CPB reality has nothing to do with that.
The Pacifica does not depend on -- it had a life before CPB, and it will have a life if there is a CPB. In
a sense that issue is separate from where we're going. And so my own view is the most urgent that
people ought to be doing is what I said.
As far as centralization is concerned --
that word keeps being bandied around. When we say
centralization, what I mean is the Strategic Plan and the committees of this Board have agreed that we
want to centralize, as much as possible, administrative services, all of the managerial and administrative
aspects of this place that can be centralized, in order to save money and in order to find ways to do things
more effectively, so that there will be more money to go into programming. That kind....And that we
want to have more national programming, because we are a network.
So I think the new demographics, the appeal
to people who are younger....I don't mean that all of us who
are older should be like dispatched, you know, but I mean appeal to people who are younger, get them
involved...I mean, some folks have children. Get them involved. I don't know. Relatives or something.
I think that this is urgent business, and we've spent too much in this organization, in my view, working
on who's up, who's down, who's got power, who do this, who did that, instead of having a substantive
discussion about these matters. And with that...And at the end of the public comment period I'm going
to ask the Executive Director, since this isn't a statement, that the Executive Director or the Chair should
make some statements at the end...I just made some at the beginning, so I'm going to ask the Executive
Director to make some at the end.
The ground rules are that every speaker
has two minutes or less, and the Board members who may want
to say something. And the speakers should....The public comment period will last no more than sixty
minutes, and with that I will call the first person forward, if there's somebody here timing for me. You
are, yes. Bob Balcock (sp?), please come forward and come to the microphone.
Bob Baldock : Hello, folks.
For ten years I've produced public events for KPFA. I've done this
as an independent contractor, sometimes paid, just as often as a volunteer. As these events have been
recorded and broadcast, it is radio production. The events have benefited KPFA in many different ways.
They've raised money off air. They've raised money on air, used as premiums. Some of them have gone
for more than $20,000, single marathon, KPFA alone. They've networked KPFA with progressive
organizations. They've given KPFA a positive off-air profile. They've introduced KPFA to new
audiences. They've built community by physically bringing people together. They've enabled KPFA
to provide free seats for students and low-income individuals to gather. Now...And they have networked
independent bookstores throughout the Bay Area, putting KPFA posters in their windows and so on. They
have drawn...Customarily they have drawn thoroughly diverse crowds of 400 to 3500, and we probably
do eight to ten a year. These audiences are not necessarily reflected by KPFA listener data. If this work
endows me at all with any value in your eyes, please respect my total support for KPFA management and
in particular for Nicole Sawaya, whose leadership is invaluable to the work we're doing and the
continuance of that work. Please also accept that in my experience Pacifica National actions, or actions
publicly purported and not denied to be Pacifica National Board actions, have had an extremely deleterious
impact on KPFA's public events, hence on KPFA radio. I've got copies of this if I may pass them
Mary Frances Berry: All right,
Susan Stone. And after Susan Stone Sherrill Flowers..[unclear due
Susan Stone: I'm Susan Stone,
and I coordinate the book arts, the readings and the radio theater at KPFA
to the best of my ability. But I couldn't do it without the volunteer programmers who make an extremely
rich and local sound for KPFA. I want to talk about what is working on our air. It's the very best thing
that Pacifica can be. It's the sound of the radio stations. It's the strength of them. And that's where I
think the focus should be, especially as we enter the fiftieth. We all are very amazed and delighted at
how often we make our fundraising goals, and top them, and we want to share those resources with you
to bring the focus in what we do with our money back to the air. It's our best activity. And it's the
activity that's getting sidelined in all kinds of discussions and distractions that are keeping us from what
is important, and that is our air. In good faith, the staff---unpaid and paid---met years ago and for a
number of years, to discuss the Strategic Planning Vision of Pacifica. To our great dismay, that's fallen
by the by, as have the architects of that planning activity. They have disappeared, and so has all
discussion of strategic vision for Pacifica. I just want to remind the Board that in good faith, we would
like to continue those discussions, have you listen to us, come next door, meet us, listen to our air, talk
about it with us, and pay attention to it, because without focus on our air, we really aren't a radio station
at all. We'd like good faith to be what operates us and not bad faith and feeling to be what continues to
divide our house, because Foundation is not working with Operation at this point in time, and I really
believe we can remedy that. But let's get back to the talk about the air because that's what we really
started out being, and we're forgetting that.
Mary Frances Berry: Sherrill Flowers. Sherrill Flowers here? Larry Bensky. Larry Bensky here?
Female Voice: He's on his way.
Mary Frances Berry: Stephen Klein (sp?). [transcriber's note: not sure of this name] Stephen Klein.
Stephen Klein: A people who
wish to be free must arm itself with a free press. This was said
legendary journalist, George Seldes. Fifty years ago Pacifica was founded by Lew Hill to be an
independent, community-sponsored radio network devoted to peace and social justice issues, and to offer
dissent from mainstream conventional wisdom and a corporatist view of the world. More than 50% of
Pacifica's funds come from listeners, and KPFA's is even greater. KPFA is truly a community radio
station, and only with ongoing and active community input will it continue to be progressive and a voice
of dissent from the de-democratization that is occurring in this country. Corporations continue to
accumulate more and more power and our democracy is at risk. Corporations are totalitarian, not
democratic. And like the former Soviet Union, they do not allow dissent or challenges to the system.
America is moving in this direction, with loyalty to the corporation in place of loyalty to the Communist
Party. It is control in a suit instead of a uniform, and it is undemocratic. KPFA Pacifica is one of the
few roadblocks to total corporate control of the American mind.
Elan Fabri: Ten seconds.
Stephen Klein: Corporate control
of the media is almost complete. Fewer than a dozen
mega-corporations control what we see, read and hear. It is the responsibility of the Board to insure that
Pacifica continues to perform its mandate and it's vital role.
Mary Frances Berry: Gail Donner. Please.
Gail Donner: I'm not trained
as a speaker. I'm a working poor woman who has a child at UC Berkeley.
And I just want you to know that Pacifica is a lifeline for me and the people that are down in the trenches
that are losing their homes, they are losing their civil rights. Please , I beg you not to make this a
corporation...for the grassroots, for the local control to leave, 'cause we will die from that. We're down
there and our lives are at stake.
[Mary Frances Berry made a comment which
cannot be heard clearly due to echo -- one or two other
voices also speaking]
[Elan Fabri (apparently near microphone)] I'll tell when there's ten seconds remaining.
Dennis Bernstein: Excuse me?
[female voice]: [answering -- cannot be heard]
Dennis Bernstein: Good morning,
Dr. Berry, members of the Board, all those who have assembled. My
name is Dennis Bernstein. I produce the Flashpoints show here on KPFA, a daily drive time investigative
news magazine. I'm also the editor with the Pacific News Service and write for the Nation, the Boston
Globe, DKO Journal, and the nation of Thailand. As a programmer here I've raised millions of dollars
for the station on and off air and count among my good friends some of the major donors to Pacifica here
in the Bay Area and in New York City where I produced a daily morning show, Undercurrents, which
was syndicated on 60 stations. Our Flashpoints show now raises on the average of between $4,000 and
$5,000 per fifteen minute pitch. I do want to say, Dr. Berry, that I'm very sorry to hear that you received
all that terrible treatment, and I apologize for whoever it was that brought it to you. [scattered applause]
I'm not going to talk about the governance. Many people know a lot more about that than I do. I do
want to say something about the process in the programming. Over the last several years, we at the
bottom---the programmers, the engineers, and the foot soldiers of the network---have been kept in the dark
and treated very poorly. There are many examples of this, too numerous to go into. We are with you,
we don't like being beaten up by all the sides at once, and it happens all the time. But it has come down
from on high too often. And I want to say this. I agree with you about bringing young people---I have
thirty seconds left?---well, then, I just want to tell you this, as a teacher for ten years before I came to the
network, I worked in the South Bronx, in Harlem, and Far Rockaway, and one of the most important
things that I ever did was on the day that Eleanor Bumpers, the 67-year-old grandmother, was executed
in her apartment by fifteen cops because she was late on the rent--one of my students was underneath
listening to the shots. I had an opportunity to bring that young woman and several other people who I
was teaching media to to WBAI in New York to tell their story, to be born out of that experience instead
of dying there, and I hope---and two of those people are journalists now---I hope that they have the
opportunity to have an open, free, non-corporate, unfettered radio network that is not closed to them, and
they shouldn't have to be made to pay a fee to take a course. Thank you.
[female voice -- apparently from the audience]
Why don't you have that woman stand there with a
gag....[garbled by other voices]
Jeffrey Blankfort: Good morning
again, Dr. Berry and the Board. Last night I made a couple of posters
up for today's meeting, because I knew what would happen, having been to
so many of these board meetings in Houston and Los Angeles and here.
It said, "When was the last time a Board member voted `No'?" And
again the LAB members have been intimidated by the Executive Board. This is a corporate board...the
voting is extraordinary...its unanimity...it does not represent the local boards. Our local board passed a
resolution calling for a postponement and meeting with the CPB. The New York board passed a
resolution. And yet these are simply overlooked and you have your unanimous vote. I also object to the
cavalier treatment of a letter signed by three men who have contributed mightily to Pacifica---Noam
Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Ed Herman. With their speeches and their personal donations---I know that
they have contributed a great deal of money---and when they are concerned about this---and although Dr.
Berry, you don't even think they wrote this letter, and you don't think Howard Zinn even is concerned
about this issue, knows anything about it---I think you insult Pacifica and Dr. Zinn. And I really think
that when they find out how this board cavalierly dismissed their letter, they will have more to say on this
issue, as we will. Thank you very much.
David Glick: Good morning.
My name is David Glick. I work with the Social Justice Center of
It is important to understand what is at stake here today. KPFA and the other Pacifica stations are the
heart of the progressive movement. There is nowhere else we can get the information and radical analysis
that Pacifica provides. Pacifica has given strength and hope and legs to the progressive forces in America.
We all agree on both sides that Pacifica must be preserved. But what's at stake here is what's the nature
of what we're preserving. I want to say clearly and unambiguously that a progressive movement requires
a democratic governance. You cannot have a progressive movement without democratic governance.
[Applause] And that is precisely why there is so much disagreement. It's deep and it's broad among
many of the listeners of Pacifica and KPFA. And that's about the loss of local control.
Now I want to just draw a quick analogy.
The strategists in the Democratic Party, of which I am not a
member---I don't vote Democratic---but they believed that if they kept moving the party to the right, they
would not lose voters because they'd have no place else to go. And in a way I think mistakenly that's
what you're thinking. But there's a whole room of people here who are devoted to Pacifica and KPFA,
and what I am afraid is that you are putting Pacifica at financial risk, because whatever amount of money
you think you're going to get from the CPB, I'm afraid you're going to lose from dedicated supporters
like us. [Applause] And one last thing. I want to ask...I want to leave you with a question. I know your
intentions are good, but we can be divided about that. And I simply want to say I believe you want to
expand the listenership of Pacifica and KPFA, but the question I want to leave you with is this: What
is more important for a progressive movement, to reach fewer people with the right message or more
people with the wrong message?
[inaudible off-microphone comments]
Female Voice: Thank you very much. OK. All right.
[Speaker's Name Not Heard on Tape]: I heard
it said, I believe by Dr. Berry: Local advisory boards will
have input. Well, it seems that the input will not include the right to vote. OK? That's scary. Because
it's called Power. OK? Now, these are my notes I took... I also would like...I also heard said the
Executive Committee must have representation from each signal area. Again, the representation will not
include the right to vote by people who are chosen at the local level. OK? Now, I also heard as follows:
that the advisory board should have input regarding programming but not governance regarding operations.
So, if the governing board has the control of hiring and firing, that is going to influence the
programming..I think...I also saw here--right after the vote was taken for the bylaw change--a mass
resignation of the local advisory board members at this table. Thereafter, they were requested to stay on
until the end of their terms. But...hello!?...What does a mass resignation of the local advisory board
members mean? Doesn't it mean something? OK? And then this is my last comment. It says in my
notes CPB requires that the Committee Needs Assessment should be carried to the Executive Board. And
I heard somebody say that that was done in 1998 and "put on the skids by the Executive Board. That's
my notes. Thank you.
Mary Frances Berry: Alex Carlin [not sure of this name].
[inaudible off-microphone comments]
Alex Carlin: Hi, I'm an administrator
at a foundation in this area and we had to stop giving money to
KPFA in 1998. We've given a lot of money over twenty years. The main reason was...Well, there was
actually a lot of shocking news that was coming along, including the gag rule, but when it all boiled down
we decided it was the lack of democracy was the big problem. Right now you addressed that, Dr. Berry,
with the shocking argument. You essentially said, `Well there was no democracy before, why are you
worried there is no democracy now?' That is insulting and that is a chilling argument. I'm sure you
didn't really mean that.
Mary Frances Berry: That isn't what [inaudible]....
Alex Carlin: Well, you essentially
said it's not so different than it was before. And there really was
little democracy before, unfortunately. Anyway, that highlights the problem. The things that... You know,
as a foundation, we...we're not going to give...You know, can't give any more contributions until this
democracy issue is cleared up. We believe, however, that you're all intelligent people, you'll probably
end up going home, realizing all this--you're going to be thinking, well how could be so silly as to think
that Pacifica could even theoretically be run without democracy or without accountability, without
listeners' ability to recall a bad leader. It's just crazy...it's just going to...you're just going to realize that
it's more or less a bad dream, and you're going to come up with some kind of way to govern
yourselves..govern Pacifica with democratic processes. I mean, otherwise, it's just a complete disconnect
on the whole spirit of the thing. And we're confident you're going to come around to that position.
Bill Mandel: For those who
came in late, Dr. Berry began by referring to a threat to her life and
things. Two days ago, the Chronicle carried a full page obituary of a man who headed the FBI here in
the sixties, and the obituary stated that among other things it was his business to devise phony letters and
communications to various people. My daughter was one recipient of such a communication. I know
hundreds of KPFA listeners. I attended all the meetings after the 1959 massacre. I never heard any...
[Male Voice]: Ninety-five.
[Female Voice]: Ninety-five.
Bill Mandel: Ninety-five.
Sorry. My age is showing. I never heard from anyone anything
of the kind that
brought about the remarks by Dr. Berry, which I do not doubt for a moment. I'm speaking to the
question of source. They do say something to me about something yesterday, for those who were not
present yesterday. Yesterday's meeting was surreal. There were armed pigs in this place. There were
also plainclothes pigs in this place. The setup was such that there was this amount of space, at least,
between the board meeting and the rest of us, and there was no microphone. The entire tone of that
meeting was that the listeners in the city that founded the network are the enemy. This was the tone of
The last word has to do with the statement...This
will have to take a couple more than ten seconds, on
the basis of KPFA, I'll ask for a couple of more moments...Just a word...just a word about the person who
spoke for the station committee and who spoke of KPFA, and who said that she had supported the 1995
clean-up--whatever you want to call it. I'd like to point out...yes...I'd like to point out that the stated
reason for that was to improve our demographics in terms of the station. I stated at that time that it would
not have that effect, and of course it has not had that effect. We have the same listenership in numbers
that we had before, give or take a couple of points. As far as I'm concerned, this Pacifica ceased being
Pacifica--past tense--two years ago when KPFA failed to give live coverage to the Board of Regents
meeting on Affirmative Action issue. That must be changed.
Female Voice: [inaudible name called here]
Elan Fabri [off microphone]: I will give you thirty seconds....
(unidentified male speaker): I am
dismayed and saddened, but what I hear and what I see at this meeting
tonight...this afternoon. You might as well be the board of directors of Monsanto and Chevron, because
that is the way the operate. They are management, and their board of directors decide what the local plant
is to be, what kind of actions the workers and the management of that facility have almost no say, like
the rest of the Pacifica stations. You're not being responsive to the needs of the progressive community.
We need...We are in a crisis in our world, and we need to deal with that. And we do not learn any
democratic process in our whole experience, either in families, in schools, on the job, and you are just
perpetuating that, and you're not the voice of the future. And you can't decide whether people are
operating by their color. You have to look at their class and their interests and where the power is. And
you want to maintain the power. You want to hold on to the power. You don't want to give the
listeners--the movement for social change, like the foundation folks, or youth, students---you don't want
to give them any voice. You want to fire and hire management that determines what happens at the
station, and that is not the democratic process. The Board needs to be a service agency, and not a ruling
agency. [applause] You need to make sure that we have the facilities and that things work together, but
not tell us what to do and not tell us how to run our stations. That needs to be done by elected officials,
and I'm ashamed of the two representatives of KPFA, you've acted in the cowardly way by resigning and
by not following what the people say.
Nancy Delaney: My name is
Nancy Delaney and I was a programmer for fifteen years at KPFA in
Women's Department and Public Affairs. I was a steward for the unpaid staff in the middle eighties, and
for six years I tried to stop what we're looking at today in every way that I knew possible. And I just..I
cannot tell you how much I loved what KPFA and what Pacifica was. And I have to issue an apology
to Lew Hill for the travesty. This is such a shame that we've lost his dream. It's perfectly obvious the
kind of structure that you've created--Anybody who knows anything about grassroots knows the structure
that you've created. You have disengaged from listener sponsorship, which is the root of this entire
process. It's another case of the emperor having no clothes. I've come to call KPFA and Pacifica Radio
"Better Homes and Gardens Radio." [laughter] It started with David Salniker in the middle eighties,
when he brought in Flo Green, who has talked about "target markets," and we said, "We're
listener-sponsored; we have other values." And she said, "Oh well, never mind." I'd like to say that there
is a difference between community radio and public radio, just like there's a difference between
community parks and public parks. Public parks and public radio are done...Some anonymous entity
presents something for people's good, like medicine, but the people are not engaged, they are not able to
be active. You're interested in conquest--the way this country was created. You're not interested in
service, and you're opportunistic.
Female Voice: David Adelson.
[inaudible off-microphone comments]
David Adelson: OK. I
won't take two minutes. Hi. I just want to say..I heard somebody
actually--mention progressive, and that it was odd that anybody would ask what that means. But, you
know, it seems to cover so much. I often like to start off with my own definition, which is I think
progressive means that the people who are affected by decisions have (a) the ability to know about them,
and (b) the ability to influence them. I think that's what progressive means. I'm a biologist, and I'm very
interested in the relationship between structure and function. I think structure determines function over
the long term. So if you are all---I have no doubt, because I know many of you, about the good
intentions of many of the people here. But in the long term, what the institution creates will be a
reflection of its structure. The ecology determines what can grow there. And I would hope, what Lew
Hill said was that the key ecological feature was that the programmers must have control over the policy
that determines their actions. Without that...Listener sponsorship was a way of supporting that. It was
not...Listener sponsorship by itself was not the structural feature that would make you produce something
different. And I'd like you to keep that in mind as you make further decisions about structure in the
Mary Frances Berry: Did Larry Bensky and Sherill Flowers show up?
Male Voice: Yeah, Larry's here.
Larry Bensky: ...right after the show.
Mary Frances Berry: Larry Bensky. Larry Bensky?
Larry Bensky: Thank you, Dr.
Berry and members of this board for the opportunity to speak to you
today, and thank you for your service to Pacifica. I apologize, but I was on the air, I couldn't be here
earlier. I prepared over there a chart of the Pacifica National office, which comes out of the Board packet,
and you will see what I believe to be a serious problem with this organization, which is the unchecked
proliferation of jobs and expenses that have little or no justification. In the last four years, those jobs in
red have been added to this organization.
Female Voice: Down in front, please. [pause]
Male Voice: I don't think they can read it, Larry.
Larry Bensky: I'm gonna hand
out copies later. I have them here. This, on the other hand,
is how much
programming is produced by Pacifica over the last twenty years. It's changed from 1.5% of our program
schedule, which is of course the Pacifica Network news, now to 5.5% in 1999. On the other hand, the
amount of money taken from Pacifica stations like KPFA has gone from 3% to 17.2%, and that is directly
correlated to the structure of who now works here doing jobs that I believe are unjustified and much too
expensive for this organization. But even if they were justified...[applause] [comments from audience -
inaudible]...Even if they were justified, the structure under which they are placed is not one that should
be part of-or should be part of--the tradition of any progressive organization. We do not need a top-down
organization. We need an Executive Director who is directly responsible to the general managers, the
program directors, and the operations directors. I have prepared a longer version of these remarks to
distribute to the Board so that you may see what I did not have time to say, but I'm asking that you
consider instituting an immediate hiring freeze on all national office positions, institute an immediate
review of all personnel, and consider a restructuring of our administrative entity along the lines of what
we should have, and finally, that the books be opened completely because the one chart...[cheers and
applause]...the one chart that I wasn't even able to make--and I've been trying for two weeks to figure
this out--has to do with where the money goes. I have no idea, and nobody else does either. Thank you.
Female Voice: Shelly Bowen?
Voices from Audience: Where's Mary Berry?
[general commotion and questions -- Where's Mary Berry?]
Female Voice: ...if I could just...She's not here. Maria Gilardin.
Voices from Audience: Don't talk without her here. Get Berry. Etc., etc.
Female Voice: .......all speakers.
Audience: No, no, no. She's not here!
Male Voice: You're gonna hold us to two minutes and walk out?
Male Voice: She should be made to come back.
Maria Gilardin: Can I have?...I haven't started yet. Can I have an explanation why Dr. Berry isn't here?
Voices from the Audience:
[miscellaneous inaudible comments, then a chant]: We want Berry!
Male Voice: ....as a matter of courtesy....listening to the folks from Berkeley. I believe that the...
[commotion from the audience]
Robert Farrell (Board member): ......if the folks who are here choose not to address the board, I'd like to ask them just to leave and let the people who are here who want to address the board address the board....
[commotion and response from the audience]
Maria Gilardin: It's very
unfortunate that Dr. Berry isn't here, because my first question to you
many of you have seen the letter by attorney Dan Siegel that was sent to her? Can I please see a show
of hands, how many of you have seen it?
Male Voice: That's not true.
Maria Gilardin: Before you
took this vote. Before yesterday. Four. OK, not everybody.
presenting here is the compilation of several people's efforts. We found ourselves in an amazing situation,
having all the crucial information, something we didn't know ahead of time. We wrote this appeal hoping
we would be able to speak to you beforehand, which is another travesty of this. This public input should
take place before you vote. [applause and cheers] For those of you who know, attorney Dan Siegle sent
a February 23, 1999, letter to board Chair Berry, and he urged that you be informed that the changes you
were about to contemplate were in violation of at least two sections of the California Corporations Code.
Were you briefed on the consequences? Do you know that the corporate veil is pierced in this case and
that individual directors--you as individual directors--may be liable if there is a law suit, and there may
well be. The main point of this letter was that inadequate notice of the by-law changes had been given.
They should have been noted 45 days in advance. This wasn't done. Regarding the current compromise,
a gentleman's agreement is non binding. It's like NAFTA side agreements, you know, "We'll fix it later,
screw the environment and screw labor and fix things later." This isn't part of the text. The people
offering you the agreement have already lied on this and other issues. The compromise you think you
have brokered is largely a rehash of the 1997 attempt that failed. And this is really important. One
person present here talked to Rick Madden and took notes of the conversation. Rick Madden stated that
the funding is NOT in jeopardy, that you have time to make this change, that the funding would be held
in escrow for you and you could get it once the change was contemplated. Also, Pacifica never
challenged Conrood's letter. Lynn Chadwick never called and said, "How can we do this?" They heard
nothing, nothing from you.
Female Voice: You've exceeded your two minutes by thirty seconds.
Maria Gilardin: OK.
Audience Voices: Let her talk. We want everyone to have the opportunity to speak.
Female Voice: Next is Lyn Gerry. The next....
[Audience Comments - inaudible]
Maria Gilardin: OK.
She gave up her time. OK. What you contemplated of doing--what
you about--was to bring up this discussion with the LABs in the time between Houston and now. You
haven't done that. We were present when the LAB, the local board, was advised on what you were about
to do just a few days back. That's not input from the base, neither from your local boards nor from the
audience. So the LABs and public were not informed about this impending change until days before this
meeting. The notice of by-law changes and notice of meeting was posted on the website no earlier than
February 24. The Board books were not given out in advance. Wwe didn't know what you were about
to do and what you were to argue. Although many of us had direct experience with the CPB, stating--
including journalists in the audience here--stating that you were creating a phony emergency upon which
you used then to subvert the democratic structure of this--or potential democratic structure--of this
organization. You know well from your own contacts, and from us, that democratically elected boards
are within the purview of the CPB. They would have solved this dilemma you find yourselves in. You
could have gone the democratic route as you were urged to do by Chomsky, Zinn, Herman and many,
many people locally here--by your real supporters, by those who love you, by the people who have
worked for you for years and years. I want to stop there.
Female Voice: The next speaker is Erroll Maitland.
Female Voice: No, the next speaker is Lyn.
Female Voice: No, Lyn gave up her time.
Female Voice: Lyn gave up her time to Maria. Erroll.
Erroll Maitland: I just basically....I
want to surrender my time to...in one...to Al Stein. But I just want
to say that s a member...as a listener to WBAI for thirty years, and unpaid staff, and someone who works
in that station--sometimes twenty-four and forty and sixty hours without stop--that we recommend a
substitute that we had a commitment that would be made, and it was not made.
Female Voice: I believe Sherrill
Flowers has arrived. Is that correct?
Female Voice: Can Lyn have the rest of Mr. Maitland's time? Because he didn't use all of it.
[miscellaneous audience comments]
Female Voice: One minute and ten seconds.
[miscellaneous audience comments]
Male Voice: Let's hear Al Stein right now.
Male Voice: Al Stein.
Al Stein: I thank you for
giving me the minute--whoever offered the time. I just want to address
the fact that on the fiftieth anniversary year of Pacifica Radio and radio
foundation, you've got to think about your incredible tape collection that
everyone here has either produced--to a large extent--or it's going to
be utilized within the next century. I'm--as some of you know--the
former archivist. I was terminated on the nineteenth. Coincidentally
enough, I'm the second in two years to go, and the third, if you count
the previous director of the Archives before the two archivist. So
I say you going to have to look at your-- examine your own politics on
this issue. Why have there have been three archivists who have been
trying to give you a professional...doing a professional job, in
terms of preservation...and finding that the archives are not in a good state, and will not continue to be in a good state. You've got history. You've got tapes that are disintegrating, that weren't completed on former grants, that could be looked at, and need to be looked at--because this is your history. This is our history. And Dr. Berry, you're a historian, of all people, you should be the most concerned about the state of the Archives into the next century, as well as what we're talking about today. That's my time on it. That's what I have to say.
Female Voice: Am I correct that Sherrill Flowers is here?
Female Voice: Sherrill?
Female Voice: Yes, she's here.
[female voice off-microphone]: ...you have ten...
Male Voice: We all know it. Don't waste time telling everybody you have so much time. You're wasting our time by doing that.
Sherrill Flowers: Good morning.
My name is Sherrill Flowers. I'm currently the producer for Sunday
Salon, a show that's carried on three of the Pacifica stations. I'm
also producer for the morning show on KPFA. And I'd like to read a few
words from a brochure that was put together for the fortieth anniversary
for Pacifica, which says, "Pacifica Radio is a national nonprofit radio
system dedicated to offering the broadest possible spectrum of arts, culture,
news, and information, in order to create a better climate for peace and
understanding." I just want to read that last part again. "..in
order to create a better climate for peace and understanding." I've
been working for Pacifica for more than eight years, and I am still waiting
for that climate of peace and understanding.
I am deeply concerned about the growing--and I rushed to get here, so I'm very much out of breath--...I guess basically what I would tell you....If I had more than two minutes I would tell you [sobbing] about what it's like to work for...with a place with so many people that have wonderful and creative ideas, who are committed to the ideas of peace and social justice...If I had more than two minutes I would tell you about the many wonderful programs often put together by people that you never get to hear. I would tell you about some of the wonderful letters we get by listeners who are inspired by something they heard or...or the one about...or something they've appreciated. I would tell about the stories about people like me, who have constantly felt disrespected and a lack of support for their efforts. And I would tell you what it's like to work for weeks at a time without knowing the status of your employment or your future with the organization...what it's like to communicate with national
staff about critical issues regarding the daily operations of a national show and to talk to whoever's in charge. Since I don't have more than two minutes, I would instead urge you to pay attention to what the staff and
listeners are saying about this network. Pay attention to the statement issued by KPFA, which I signed, and pay attention to the role that all of us are making in this network...
Female Voice: Time.
Sherrill Flowers: Give me ten seconds. And most importantly, I would urge as a board to think about what you can do to help create that climate of peace and understanding. Thank you.
Female Voice: Sam Jinsky.
Male Voice: Sandronsky.
Seth Sandronsky: Hello, everybody.
I'm Seth Sandronsky, one of the listener sponsors of Pacifica Radio. Excuse
me. With all due respect, the national board does not represent the
listener sponsors of Pacifica Radio. [applause] That is what
is crippling Pacifica Radio. Here's my suggestion to the national
board. Ask the listener sponsors how they want Pacifica Radio to serve
them. Will you? Can you? Thank you. [applause]
I'd like to grant my remaining time to an additional speaker, if I could. Lyn Gerry.
Female Voice: Lyn Gerry, you have one minute.
Female Voice: Are you distributing paperwork?
Female Voice: I will.
Lyn Gerry: Yes.
Female Voice: I'll be giving you a ten-second warning.
Lyn Gerry: OK. Thank you.
Male Voice: Will somebody give Lyn some more time?
Lyn Gerry: That's OK.
This will be fine. Thank you. I have just given the lady here
a petition to end the gag rule at Pacifica, which has been signed by hundreds
of people. [applause] But you have proven here today
that you don't give a damn about what kind of organization the community wants. Some of you are congratulating yourselves--that you have saved $1.5 million of CPB funding. But what you have actually done is to betray the trust placed in you by those who donate $6.5 million of the funding to Pacifica [cheers from the audience]..and who have built and sustained this organization for fifty years. Some of you were warned exactly about what ploys would be used to ram through these changes: the phony emergency cooked up from the people who have meant to steal this organization for a good five, six years now--from those who built it, with a "Trust us. We'll fix it later." You fell for it. "Trust us," you say. You've forfeited that trust. Now you are going to reap the consequences of your betrayal...Ten seconds from somebody! Give me ten seconds. Thank you.
Who are you?...The legacy of the Pacifica Foundation management over these past several years has been one long trail of corruption. Some of the members of this organization are, to put it plainly, criminals. And we
will open the books and prove it. Thank you.
[Applause and cheers]
John Sporich (sp?): Hello. My name is John Sporich.
Female Voice: ....ten seconds.
Male Voice: [inaudible -- seemed to be a protest about the time limits]
Female Voice: Please, sir, .....[inaudible]
Male Voice: You don't dare shut it down.
John Sporich: I would be...Before I begin my remarks, I would like to ask, "Who is the vice chairman of this meeting?" Who is...This is run under Roberts Rules of Order. Otherwise this whole meeting will be declared null and void. I would like to know at this point, who is in charge?
Female Voice: I'm chairing the meeting at the moment. I'm the Treasurer. The chair and vice chair are not at the table....
John Sporich: OK....
Female Voice: [inaudible]...
John Sporich: ...but this
is...[audience comments]...This is a point of parliamentary order.
I don't want this deducted from my time. Under the rules of Roberts
Rules of Order we have a Sergeant at Arms here. I think
that you should now direct the Sergeant at Arms to determine if Ms. Berry is in the building, to determine whether or not she is going to continue to conduct this meeting. [audience comments]...
OK, I will now begin my comments.
Female Voice: ....time has started.
Audience: No, no [etc.]....
John Sporich: Under Roberts Rules of Order that was a legitimate parliamentary inquiry, and I will not deduct it from my time.
Female Voice: [inaudible -- response regarding time]
Audience: No [etc.]
Male Voice: Just let it go.
John Sporich: OK. I
wanted to direct my remarks to Ms. Berry. I talked to her when she
first came on the national board, when she visited the LAB in Berkeley.
I told her at that time my concern that KPFA and Pacifica
was not keeping up with internet technology. I volunteered to go on the technology board and help her with that pursuit. She favorably received my comment, but then I never heard anything from her again. I just want
to let the members of this meeting know that I have--with my own funds--privately acquired KPFA.com, but urge in the transition--for what I believe will be KPFA disconnecting itself from the Pacifica network. Thank you.
Male Voice: Hey, Lyn, you want any more time? I'm going to be short. You want some time?
Female Voice [sounded like Maria]: Give time to Lawrence Ferlingetti.
Male Voice: I'll give time
to Lawrence Ferlingetti. This is going to be very short. [aside
with time keeper - "So when are we starting? Right now?] This
is referring to Dr. Berry's comments before the public comment
section. She talked about progressive values. She seemed to be a little bit confused about what they were. I have always felt that there were progressive values embedded in the values of community radio. Some of the
values that I think the people share--but I question whether the board shares. The people who pay the bills and the people who do the work should have a significant say in decision-making. This is a progressive value. So that's why we need locally elected governing boards. We should act in our daily life and how we relate to each other in our work in a way that's consistent with the values and concerns we espouse on the air. Like we talk about democracy and honoring labor, but we don't do that at Pacifica. Empowering the average person to speak their truths--average people can fight back. With a little training, anybody can do radio. That's what community radio is about, people, not professionalization. [applause] OK. Finally, the legitimacy of power should flow from the bottom up. This is a value we put out every day on Pacifica Radio. But you don't act on it. Lawrence Ferlingetti.
Female Voice: Forty-five seconds.
Lawrence Ferlingetti: I speak
not only as poet laureate of San Francisco, but as one of the members of
the original Lew Hill generation, from 1949, and I find what you are intent
on doing...You're destroying the original
concept of this station, and I urge you to reverse the votes that you've evidently already taken before you heard the total opposition of the public. And as a final resort, the listener sponsors may have to take back the station by seceding from the Pacifica network. [applause]
Female Voice: The next speaker is Joanne Graham.
Joanne Graham: I hear my own
name. Hi. I just want to say that I'm a listener. I've
been listening since the sixties. Other than that, I have no connection...I
mean, this is a very interconnected group of people today, people who've
worked for KPFA, people who give a lot of money, who have been at meetings.
I've never before been at a KPFA meeting or Pacifica meeting. I have
never been to a meeting of the Local Advisory
Board. And therefore I was astounded to come in and find out that the public commentary happened after [laughter]....I mean, I go to city council meetings and I go to Berkeley School Board meetings, where the
public comment comes before and is part of the decision that is made. So that in itself is extraordinary. I also would like to comment on not only all the political stuff that's been going on, but just the sound of the station. Because I'm married to a man who works for KPIX TV. He's been in commercial broadcasting all his life, and I'm very conscious of the way that commercial broadcasters think about the audience to which, obviously,
they're selling stuff. And I've thought a lot about what audience you think that you switched to in 1995. I don't anybody who listens to KPFA, except me. The other members of my family don't. And since you changed
it, I turn it off all the time. The primary effect of the change that you made is that I know a lot more about the other radio stations in the area now [jeers and comments]...and I can't imagine...I see your target audience as being people in their forties now, who are interested in health and herbs, and certainly they're still white, they're still
middle-class, it's not diverse, and I can't imagine....[time keeper intervened]...OK.
Female Voice: [called name - not understood]
Matthew Lasar: Hi. Friends!
And I do not say that simply as an empty gesture. Friends.
I come here today...And I would like to use a word to describe myself,
which is very rarely used at Pacifica...I come here as a
conservative, as someone who cherishes order and stability. I was just on the air this morning with WBAI, where I was interviewed because of this book that I have written. I was on the air with Samori Marksman, Mimi
Rosenberg, Al Lewis, and Bob Fass. It appears to me, from the tone of their remarks, that the staff at WBAI is in open on-air revolt against the decision....[cheers]...
Male Voice: Fire them all!
Matthew Lasar: The good news
is...good news is...that things that have been done can always be undone,
that mistakes that have been made can always be acknowledged. Lewis
Hill once said during a very difficult
internecine crisis in Pacifica Radio that "We are human, and there is our hope." If there is anything I can do to help. Thank you.
Female Voice: [calling for name - not understood] I have the next one as Ben Anonymous.
Male Voice: I'm going to address
the new board of Pacifica. [cheers] How would someone who is African
American change from an advocate of democracy and civil rights into an
advocate of a dictatorial type of
government? Well, I'm going to talk to you about former senator, U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, once an advocate for democracy and civil rights, and then she changed into an advocate for a Nigerian dictator--a
butcher--who actually murdered her counterpart, the First Lady in Nigeria--also the elected president of Nigeria. I come from Los Angeles. KPFK has turned into a radio station that is actually destructive to Los Angeles. Very little programming that is locally oriented towards the problems in Los Angeles. It's become anti-integrative--lies and slanders come off the microphone, and there is no acknowledgement of those, those
statements of slander. It's anti-democracy, anti-free speech. And now KPFK in Los Angeles has become an anti-minority station. I know some of the few African Americans that have been left from the butchering of KPFK, and they're very frightened to say what's really on their mind. They consciously and intentionally curb what they say, because of--what, what--what are they afraid of? Tell me. What is the Tides Foundation?
[laughter] You know, they may try and disempower us, but we can't allow them to. I want to say that personally, as a person whose parents actually helped build KPFK, the first Pacifica station, I'm expressing--and look for your support--to air a vote of no confidence to this board. A vote of no confidence...[cheers]...you know, with micro radio, with the internet, we don't need million-dollar grants from fascist foundations or corporations. We have the power. Do not allow us to be disempowered. Thank you very much.
Female Voice: The next speaker is [not understood]
Male Voice: Hi--what's left of the board here.
Male Voice: Not much.
Mike Alcalay (sp?): My name is Mike Alcalay. I'm a person with....
Female Voice: ....some people had flights...the board was supposed to adjourn at twelve...but because of the number of....
Mike Alcalay: We really appreciate that. We really do appreciate that.
[General audience comments]
Female Voice: Please respect the....[inaudible]...Mike Alcalay.
Mike Alcalay: Thank you.
Thank you. My name is Mike Alcalay. I'm a person living with
AIDS and a long time KPFA programmer. I was the AIDS reporter for
Pacifica for several years. I was there at the creation--almost ten
years ago. Pacifica for the first time brought all its stations together
to put on a magnificent performance over at Mosconi Center, five days of
live broadcasting that included Verna Avery Brown, Amy Goodman, the late
Sean Gilson from Houston--everybody was there. And I saw that as
a new beginning for what Pacifica can be. Today I see it as a very
top-heavy, hierarchical organization that is really...doesn't represent
what, you know, what Matthew Lasar has just been talking about. It also
is being run by a Stratetic Plan that, as far as I know, 99.9% of the people
in this room knew nothing about it, and didn't take any part in putting
it together. It's like Moses coming down and handing the tablets...you
know? I'll get to the chase here. KPFA is based in a city
that is known for a lot of things. It gave the world smoke-free public places. It gave the world the beginning of knocking down apartheid in South Africa. And just recently has given total support to Twinkie-Winkie
and his magic purse. I say let KPFA be KPFA, and want to address that I know all the general managers are on a very short leash with six-month contracts. I say give Nicole Sawaya--one of the only people that's been
at the station since I've been there who knows radio, lives radio, has been part of radio all her life--and give her a very very long leash and a multi-year contract, please. Thank you.
Female Voice: Is Dee Albers here? I'm sorry. Dan Albers. I'm sorry. I misread it.
Dan Albers: Just two minutes.
I rehearsed for three, sorry. I'll run through this fast. I've
been associated with KPFA as a listener and contributor for about twelve
years, and I have been employed here for a year. I direct computer
services there. KPFA is unique in that the programs appeal to people
who question authority, whether it be musical authorities, political authorities,
religious authorities, or even scientific authorities. KPFA programs
are broadcast to a wide area, allowing many listeners to participate in
the same psychic space. This
psychic space is characterized by an intent to think and act responsibly, and by the belief that all individuals' thoughts and psychic presence have equal value. The fact remains, however, that some inviduals use their
psychic presence to manipulate others for their own purposes, mostly for the satisfaction of their own greed. They perform their mind-bending feats to sell their music and ideas, and have found a venue in commercial
broadcast. It was not Lewis Hill's intention to manipulate people into following his or the early Pacifica Foundation's agenda, because they seemed to have no agenda other than providing a medium for pacifistic
monologue, dialogue and transmittable cultural artifacts. At first Berkeley could, and now Northern California can participate in fundamental pacifistic thought via radio. This is beneficial to all people of the geographic region, especially when other media leaders are confused about the effects of negative thinking and irresponsible advocacy. KPFA provides this alternative source of words and music which are consistent
with a peaceful life. The Pacifica voice has been audible primarily in urban areas in the United States. Due to the audio encoding techniques and the worldwide web allow that voice to be heard anywhere on the planet
Earth. If Pacifica is to maintain the intent of its charter of legitimizing and nurturing pacifistic ideas, then Pacifica must find out who and where the needy listeners are and how they can be reached. The commercial way to do this is to pay consultants, pay pollsters, pay statisticians, basically find a way to keep as far from the listeners as possible, while still taking their money. The Pacifica way is to include listeners in the community to be as close as possible to the needs of its audience and to value the feedback that the audience provides.
Female Voice: [not understood]...OK. The next speaker is Daniel Del Solar.
Daniel Del Solar: My name
is Daniel Del Solar. I am a listener and contributor to Pacifica
Radio for twenty-eight years and a former station manager. So regarding
the...I have a couple of comments about the
programming, management and so on. When you are changing the management of a station--that is, who is on the board--you must write within thirty days a statement of ownership to the FCC. Introspect as to whom will be
leaving and who will be staying. Who will be at around your table? Who will be participating in the conversation? Who will they be representing? How will they have come to the table to bring materials from the ground? And who will have a vote? Part one.
Part two. I have seen the blood deep
in the hallways. I have seen the blood not so deep. I have
seen Larry Bensky disappear. I have seen Larry Bensky appear.
Thank you very much for the community process that led to Larry Bensky
and his kind of thinking. He is a wise person. I want to second
his words about the danger of middle-age spread. I personally am
facing it, and you as an organization are facing it. And you need
listen to him very carefully. I second everything he says about that dread growing middle, the dread growing middle. Difficult. You have to change as an organization. You must change in any case.
Last but not least, please beware...My
warning to you--a la Eisenhower--beware lest you and your individual units
become mere weapons of mass distraction rather than the vital educational
resource that you are.
Female Voice: Thank you very
much, and for all of the comments made. This ends the public comment
section of the meeting. I'm going to take a few words from Lynn Chadwick and then request a motion to adjourn.
Female Voice: We have others signed up who were not allowed to speak.
[various comments on this issue]
[Calls for Mary Berry, etc.]